Process of Inquiry

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Process of Inquiry

University of the Rockies has a two-part mission. First, we provide students access to education. Second, we provide “high quality learning opportunities globally for diverse groups of individuals.” In order to achieve this mission, we have developed and implemented an assessment cycle to support and enhance the student experience.

Meeting Our Mission

The University of the Rockies assessment process is grounded in a culture of inquiry to support and enhance the student experience. Each year we pose new questions related to student learning as we work to meet our mission of providing “high quality, accessible, learning opportunities globally for diverse groups of individuals.” Assessment at University of the Rockies is an ongoing reflective process to find meaning throughout the institution as we seek information through convergent ideas, experiences, and tangible data.

Our goal is to gather meaningful assessment data utilizing manageable and sustainable methods and processes. We apply a process loop to direct and align our assessment activities in a way that supports the continuous improvement of university programs and practices, and a consistently sustainable, positive student experience.

In 2012, the Assessment Committee and a team of faculty developed a four-part process-loop (DART) as a simple graphic depiction of our intention to leverage assessment to meet our mission.

Process Loop (DART) | University of the Rockies

This process-loop reminds us to reflect upon our institution, student achievements, learning and satisfaction while we continually strive to improve processes, procedures and academic policies so all students can achieve a full academic experience.


The first step in our process-loop defines what we want to learn about our students. Similar to a research project, during the Discover stage, the Assessment Committee begins to formulate questions and select the tools to enhance measurement capabilities. Specifically, we pinpoint areas for improvement (based on collected data) and design a plan to extract meaningful information. Once the areas for improvement are strategically determined, the Assessment Committee develops a set of goals and recommendations for the Director of Assessment and Quality.


The Assemble stage is the binding thread of our past and our future, where institutional and organizational information can be gathered to ensure the proper selection of data-mining instruments, supportive technology, and analytic capability to collect and assemble data in meaningful ways. In this stage, the Director of Academic Assessment and Quality implements a plan to collect data. Leveraging a mix of research methodology with technology solutions, a convergence model is used to assure consistent, timely, and effective solutions for drawing out the information. Through careful mid and long-range planning, this creates the foundation for informed decisions.


Reflection is one of the most important steps in the assessment loop. In this stage, the data has already been collected and teams of faculty and staff meet to review the findings. The Director of Assessment and Academic Quality informs the Provost and Assessment Committee of impending gaps, successes and areas for improvement. Armed with this information, the Provost convenes an ad-hoc team of core stakeholders, including leadership from the Office of Student Affairs, Office of Student Services, Office of Diversity, Office of Admissions and Office of Faculty Services to focus on the findings and formulate subcommittees with solutions. The new team’s focus is on supporting our students’ experience and seeking concrete solutions for improvement.

Take Action

Subcommittees of faculty, staff and students work together to create innovative solutions to support areas of improvement. Innovation, an aspect of improvement and essential in a time of rapid change, is emphasized in all facets of our institutional practice.

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